The thaw (and the last slice of birthday cake)

I’ve been in London again for a few days. Actually it was my birthday and I decided to celebrate in the big city with my friends. My mum came too and baked me a Baumtorte – a traditional German cake which literally means ‘tree-cake’. Rather than being baked in the oven, it is made by whipping up a vanilla flavoured batter which is then cooked in layers under the grill – like an enormous stash of very thin pancakes placed on top of the other. When it’s sliced, the layers look like the rings of a tree.

The recipe comes from my grandmother, Margot, a champion, if eccentric, baker. Each layer represents a memory or a thought, so it’s very appropriate for a birthday cake. The cake features rather prominantly in Mr R –  Sadie bakes it whenever she needs to remember something or someone. So, I saved a piece for Jocasta (my editor) who had never tried it before. I felt almost guilty at giving her rather stingy slice. Almost.

Today, Mr S and I finished off the last slice and I couldn’t help but feel a little melancholy. The last of this year’s birthday Baumtorte. There’ll be another layer on next year’s. It’s like the thaw. I love snow. It transforms the most stoic grown-up into a sledging six-year-old. We’re all transported back to a childhood in Narnia and a land of hot chocolate and stories before bedtime. But, with the thaw, the magic disappears. As the snow drips from the trees and turns into grey slush oil stained by car-tyres, we all grow up again in an instant. I don’t mind it once the snow has gone, but the act of watching it fade from perfect whiteness into sludge, I can’t bear. I’m tempted to hide in London until it’s gone.

And, yes, I switch off the Narnia movie, the moment that the snow begins to melt.



Filed under from summerhouse to summer read, inspirations behind Mr Rosenblum, writer pontification

5 responses to “The thaw (and the last slice of birthday cake)

  1. I have never heard of Baumtorte and feeling like something has cleary been missing from my life, I am not sure how to deal with it either heehee.

    It’s weird I have been complaining about snow all the time its been here (I think a broken down boiler for four freezing days made me irrational) and am now quite sorry that it has gone.

    The snow melts and all thats left is a slight dingy feeling, like your stood in a very cold puddle… I think hobnobs and cups of strong tea are the way forward for now, maybe?

  2. natashasolomons

    Hobnobs and tea or a scone and a hot toddy. It’s started to sleet here (slush straight from the sky is just evil) so I believe that alcohol may be consumed before the sun has reached the appropriate mark on the yardarm. I think that’s an actual law.

  3. kimberlyloomis

    Okay, I too have never heard of that type of cake- is there a recipe you’d be willing to share?

    I really love this post, btw. I couldn’t agree with you more about play and the inevitable sadness that seems to come when the snow disappears. Thank you so much.

    Btw, I would love to link your blog over at my own for other readers. Please check out my site and see if this would work for you.

  4. natashasolomons


    I would love you to link to my blog. I can’t get the link to yours to work – can you leave it again as I would love to visit.

    And yes, I will post a Baumtorte recipe. It’s a rather eccentric recipe but it’s the one my mum uses. (I can’t bake at all – everything looks like burnt biscuits).

  5. kimberlyloomis

    Thanks, in advance, for the recipe! I love to bake- the cooking, on the other hand, I leave to my husband.

    I shall post that link this morning! I also very much look forward to purchasing your book this summer.

    Here’s the link for my blog:

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